Bill - a proposed law placed before a legislature for approval
Cloture -a rule of the US senate stipulating the debate on a legislative proposal be cut off and the proposal voted upon by the full senate if 60 members agree
Filibuster -the practice of refusing to surrender the floor during a debate to prevent the senate from voting on a proposal
Impeachment -charging a public official with a crime while in office and bringing him/her to trial. Convicted officials are removed from office
Lobbying -the practice of attempting to affect legislation by influencing legislators
Pocket veto- a presidential practice that allows a bill to die if not signed within 10 days and congress is adjourned. The president is conceived as keeping the bill in his pocket rather than taking it out and signing it.
Power to investigate- the power of congress to undertake formal inquiries into matters of public business and public policies.
Resolution - a formal statement of a decision or expression of opinion put before or adopted by an assembly such as the US congress
Seniority - length of service. In the US HOR or the US Senate, certain powers and responsibilities of congressional members, such as committee chairmanships, are granted on the basis of their time in office.
How do committees rule and help congress to do its work?
Constitution says little on how House/Senate should function
First congress set a precedent followed today by creating committees & adopting rules that govern how each house functions
Committees: HOR and Senate have standing committees
+Each one has jurisdiction over particular subjects & appoints sub-committees to examine proposals in certain areas.
How do committees rule and help congress to do its work? Cont’d
Rules: House rules adopted each congress specify size of committees and jurisdiction
+place limitations on # of members on committees and sub-committees and how many members can serve on each
+term limits for chairpersons
In Senate: rules treated more informally; can use filibuster
Party control is stronger in House than Senate; committee chairs appointed by seniority and loyalty
Who leads House/Senate?
House selects own member to be Speaker who has leadership in 3 forms:
Decentralized: house rebel against Speaker’s centralized leadership by power in hands of committee
Political party control: strong Speaker represents majority party more than institutional whole
Strong Institutional Speaker: Speaker has been most powerful political figure in country
What roles do majority rule and compromise play in congressional deliberations?
Only 1/10 proposals survive
Committee assignment: all bills usually assigned to at least 1 committee; usually go to sub-committees by chairperson
Hearings: once bill assigned, committee schedules a hearing open to public
Deliberations: schedule “mark up” sessions when members review the bill, modify to get final version then recommend it to full H or S
What roles… cont’d
Report: if favorable, its reported to full chamber in original form or amendments, written reports explain why committee acted as it did
Floor vote: when reported out of committee it is placed on calendar for consideration and vote by full H/S
Referral to other Chamber: bills/resolutions passed by one must be sent to other
What roles…? 3
Conference committee: when a S/H version of bill differ, conference committee is appointed for compromise
Referral to president: approved by both H/S go to president, if he signs=law; if no signature then 2/3 majority of those present and voting chamber; or pocket veto: president doesn’t sign it within 10 days it dies
Where do members of Congress get ideas for legislation and information in deciding which bills to support?
Ideas for legislation come from:
Campaign promises to constituents
Responses to problems or crises
Their own analysis of what laws are needed
Information on bills are found in many different ways, such as:
They can go to the Library of Congress to get information on bills. The Library of Congress is a place where the members of Congress frequently visit to look further into matters concerning bills.
Congressional Budget Office will provide an analysis of the budget for a bill, showing the Congress how much it would be to put it into action.
Further information about bills can come from the executive branch, constituents, and interest groups.
How does Congress use its power to investigate?
Finding facts on which to base legislation
Discovering or influencing public opinion
Overseeing administrative agencies
Probing into questionable activities of public office